52 Malaysian organisations issue joint statement in solidarity with Singaporean activist, Jolovan Wham

52 organisations from various fields of civil society and states within Malaysia have signed a joint statement to express solidarity with Singaporean activist, Jolovan Wham who has been recently charged in court by the authorities, stating that they refuse to keep silent when confronted with injustice.

The statement writes that Wham "is the conscience of Singapore who bravely speaks up for the voiceless, who opposes unjust treatment and policies towards the marginalized. What is even more admirable of Jolovan is that, while fighting for minority rights in Singapore, he always goes beyond national borders and boundaries."

It goes on to state that Wham's solidarity activities show that Singapore’s civic movement not only fights for Singaporeans but also speaks for worldwide democracies and marginalized foreigners in Singapore. demonstrating how Singaporeans and Singapore civil society can join forces and unite with democratic movements around the world.

Wham, a well-known activist in the area of migrant worker rights and human rights in Singapore was charged with seven charges on 29 November. The charges include; Three counts of organising illegal public assembly; organising a candlelight vigil with 16 other persons outside Changi Prison Complex (CPC) on 13 July 2017, a silent protest on MRT train with eight persons on 3 June 2017, organising an indoor public assembly which featured a foreign speaker. One count of vandalism for pasting two A-4 sheets of paper on a MRT train panel and three other charges for not signing on the police statements for the three occasions.

The statement further states that the prosecution of Jolovan is a scare tactic by the authorities to silence dissidents in Singapore. Noting that non-violent and peaceful assembly is meant to raise awareness among the public to achieve a democratic society, and thus it is not reasonable for Singapore government to charge him with these criminal laws.

"We support Jolovan and other human rights advocates in Singapore, and condemn the use of draconian laws against dissidents. We urge the Attorney General of Singapore to drop the charges against Jolovan and cease all proceedings against him." wrote the joint statement for Wham, and calls for Singapore to review its law to protect freedom of speech and peaceful assembly, to show the world that Singapore government is committed to democracy and the protection of the rights of its citizens.

Below is the statement in full

We are a group of concerned Malaysian citizens who are alarmed and disappointed by Singapore’s prosecution of the renowned social worker and activist Jolovan Wham.

Jolovan was charged with 7 offences under the Public Order Act, Vandalism Act, and the Penal Code for his peaceful and non-violent acts. He was alleged to have organized three unlawful assemblies, which involves holding a vigil outside Changi Prison for Malaysian death row inmate Prabagaran Srivijayan who was to be executed at dawn, organising an assembly without permit in a train and a forum involving Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong through skype.

In the alleged silent protest on an MRT train, Jolovan and eight others hold the book 1987: Singapore’s Marxist Conspiracy 30 Years On to commemorate “Operation Spectrum”, a security operation initiated by Singapore government in 1987. Jolovan faces a vandalism charge for sticking two A4 size papers on the train during the event. He also faces three counts of refusal to sign his recorded statement under the Penal Code.

Jolovan is a renowned social worker and activist. He bravely speaks up for the voiceless, the weak and the oppressed - no matter what race, class or gender. Jolovan was recognized for his excellent social work, for he received “Promising Social Worker Award” in 2011, and the award was conferred by the President of Singapore. When he was serving as the executive director of HOME (Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics), he fought for the rights of migrant workers in Singapore who suffered abuse and ill-treatment by employers. At the same time, he has been a staunch advocate of free speech and a human rights champion who speaks against death penalty and detention without trial.

Jolovan also initiated solidarity activities in Singapore to support social movements in other parts of Asia, such as Hong Kong and Malaysia. For example, after the 13th Malaysian general election, he organized cross-border solidarity activities to support fair and clean elections in Malaysia, not to mention his support for Malaysia’s largest rally in recent years, Bersih. He also shows untiring supports for Malaysian death row inmates in Singapore such as Prabagaran Srivijayan.

We believe that Jolovan is the conscience of Singapore who bravely speaks up for the voiceless, who opposes unjust treatment and policies towards the marginalized. What is even more admirable of Jolovan is that, while fighting for minority rights in Singapore, he always goes beyond national borders and boundaries. His solidarity activities show that Singapore’s civic movement not only fights for Singaporeans, but also speaks for worldwide democracies and marginalized foreigners in Singapore. He demonstrates how Singaporeans and Singapore civil society can join forces and unite with democratic movements around the world.

The prosecution of Jolovan is a scare tactic to silence dissidents in Singapore. Non-violent and peaceful assembly is meant to raise awareness among the public to achieve a democratic society, and thus it is not reasonable for Singapore government to charge him with these criminal laws.

Recently, we find that Singapore government is acting more actively to suppress dissidents. Besides Jolovan, other individuals are facing arrests and investigation include editor of The Online Citizen Terry Xu and journalist Kirsten Han, who were investigated for participating the vigil activity for Prabagaran Srivijayan; activist Rachel Zeng also faces investigation for organizing the skype forum with Joshua Wong; and artist Seelan Palay, who was arrested for his performance outside parliament to commemorate the 32-year detention of Chia Thye Poh.

Singapore ranks No. 1 in the world in many sectors, but its disregard of freedom of speech and assembly and its harsh actions towards dissidents are utterly disappointing. We support Jolovan and other human rights advocates in Singapore, and condemn the use of draconian laws against dissidents. We urge the Attorney General of Singapore to drop the charges against Jolovan and cease all proceedings against him.

We also call for Singapore to review its law to protect freedom of speech and peaceful assembly, to show the world that Singapore government is committed to democracy and the protection of the rights of its citizens.

We refuse to keep silent when confronted with injustice. As issues of human rights and humanitarian ideals transcend national boundaries, we urge citizens of Singapore and Malaysia to stand in solidarity with Jolovan Wham.

List of  the 52 organisations which have signed the statement.
1. Aliran
2. Amateur
3. Angkatan Warga Aman Malaysia (WargaAMAN)
4. Baramkini
5. Buku Jalanan Shah Alam
6. Center for Orang Asli Concerns (COAC)
7. Center to Combat Corruption & Cronyism (C4)
8. Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ)
9. Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (BERSIH 2.0)
10. Community Development Centre (CDC)
11. Damn the Dams Action Group
12. ENGAGE
13. Federation of Malaysian Indian Organisation (PRIMA)
14. Imagined Malaysia
15. Jaringan Rakyat Tertindas (JERIT)
16. Johor Yellow Flame (JYF)
17. Kedai Buku Mak Ali
18. KLSCAH Civil Rights Committee
19. KLSCAH Youth Section
20. Lawyer for Liberty
21. Let's Art At Sawit Center
22. Malaysia Christian for Justice
23. Malaysia Muda
24. Malaysia Youth & Student Democratic Movement (DEMA)
25. Malaysian Indians Progressive Association (MIPAS)
26. Malaysian Indians Transformation Action Team (MITRA)
27. Malaysian Youth Care Association (PRIHATIN)
28. Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture (MADPET)大
29. Meonet
30. Monitoring Sustainability of Globalisation (MSN)
31. National Human Rights Society (HAKAM)
32. North South Initiative (NSI)
33. Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM)
34. Perak Civic Forum
35. Persahabatan Semparuthi
36. Persatuan ALUMNI PBT USM Bahagian Utara
37. Persatuan Komuniti Prihatian Selangor dan KL
38. Persatuan Masyarakat Selangor dan Wilayah Persekutuan (PERMAS)
39. Persatuan Pendidikan Du Zhong Pulau Pinang
40. Persatuan Rapat Malaysia (RAPAT)
41. Persatuan Sahabat Wanita, Selangor (PSWS)
42. Pusat Komas
43. Pusat Sejarah Rakyat
44. Sahabat Rakyat
45. Selangor & Kuala Lumpur Hokkien Association Youth Wing
46. Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)
47. Sunflower Electoral Education Movement (SEED)
48. Tenaganita Womens Force
49. Teoh Beng Hock Trust for Democracy
50. Thinking Society
51. Writers' Alliance for Media Independence (WAMI)
52. Yayasan Usman Awang
This entry was posted in Civil Society.
This entry was posted in Civil Society.